By Tamas Mondovics

Dozens of area students, or more appropriately “future scientists and engineers”, are putting their Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) skills to good use by attending a number of robotics camps offered this summer.

Held annually at Hillsborough Community College in Brandon since 2007, the camps are hosted by Florida Advanced Technological Education (FLATE), the National Science Foundation Center of Excellence in manufacturing, while supporting high-tech manufacturing and manufacturing-related careers and technical education in Florida.

This year, FLATE is hosting three introductory, two intermediate and one high school level robotics camps, with the curriculum comprised of a mixture of Lego educational materials that are integrated with STEM subjects.

“Each camp offers different levels of challenges, related to future jobs in science and engineering offered right here in Florida,” said FLATE Communications Specialist Janice Mukhia.

During the introductory camp students learn how to reconfigure Lego Mindstorms robots and program them to follow specific commands. The intermediate camps present students with more complex challenges including designing, building and programming robots.

FLATE partnered with Suncoast Credit Union Foundation to offer 11 scholarships awarded on a first-come, first-served basis for its 2014 “Girls Only” robotics camp. Girls robotics camp instructor Elizabeth Simpson spoke highly of the camp and its participants whom she says are “showing a willingness to learn,” while working together on their team-oriented projects.

“The girls work very well together as they start with the basics and work their way up to the more advanced and higher skills,” Simpson said. “The camp prepares these students for future jobs.”

Ninth-grade student Anna Seerey, agreed when asked why she joined the camp and if she wants to go into a science career later on down the line.

“The way the world is now, whatever I decide to do, I’ll always have to know robotics,” she said. “It’s useful information to know.”

FLATE has two camps remaining for the summer. Available camps are scheduled for Monday-Friday, July 21-25, Intermediate EV3 Robotics Camp (B) for middle school students, and Monday-Friday, July 28-August 1 Robotics and Engineering Camp for high school students. Cost for each week-long camp is $175.

For information on the scholarships and robotics camps, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at and visit

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